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Buy out speculation swirls around IU's Crean

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For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

Woodson mentioned as successor

Saturday, March 15, 2014 - 9:29 am

BLOOMINGTON -- In the swirl of spring speculation that always surrounds Indiana basketball in general, and coach Tom Crean in particular in these no-NCAA-tourney days, take a deep breath.

Crean and his reported $14 million buyout is not happening so current New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson, the former Hoosier standout who figures to be fired after the season, will take over the program.

Athletic director Fred Glass told peegs.com's Jeff Rabjohns there is “zero truth” to a Friday New York Post story that boosters would buy out Crean's contract to bring in Woodson.

Woodson has never coached in college and has never recruited players.

Crean is in his sixth season with the Hoosiers. They are 17-14 with three straight losses and have a shot to play in the NIT, although that is not guaranteed. First-round games are set for next Tuesday and Wednesday.

The other option would be the pay-to-play CBI tourney.

This season has been a big disappointment given IU had gone to consecutive Sweet 16s the previous two years. Last year Indiana won its first outright Big Ten title since 1993, and was ranked No. 1 for much of the season.

IU lost much of its offense from last season, including four 1,000-point scorers. That also included Big Ten MVP Victor Oladipo and All-America Cody Zeller, who left early to enter the NBA draft and who were drafted in the top-four overall.

Crean replaced them with one of the nation's best freshman classes, including Big Ten freshman of the year Noah Vonleh.

The Hoosiers have started as many as three freshmen and played four extensively, especially down the stretch. Their two main flaws – poor shooting and too many turnovers – never went away.

Crean is 101-97 at IU, 73-31 in the last three seasons.

Crean lost at least 20 games in each of his first three seasons while dealing with NCAA sanctions from the Kelvin Sampson two-year era. Crean dramatically improved the team's academic standing and rebuilt the program. The last-second victory over No. 1 Kentucky in December of 2011 signaled the program was back in the national spotlight.

Still, fan discontent appeared over Crean's dribble-heavy offense, although IU led the Big Ten in scoring in 2013. Last season's losses to Butler at Indianapolis' Bankers Life Fieldhouse and to Wisconsin at home accelerated that unhappiness, as did the Hoosiers' Sweet 16 defeat to Syracuse last spring to end national title aspirations.